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From: The Socialist issue 651, 15 December 2010: Workers and students unite!

Search site for keywords: Police - Young people - Local government - Parliament - Students - National Shop Stewards Network

No more the 'apathetic generation'

ON 20 October I phoned my daughter to nudge her to participate in the London comprehensive spending review protests. She said it was cold, did she have to? I was a little disappointed, but it was her choice.

By a local government worker

When I got home from work she phoned me, saying excitedly that she was on the demo and going off to Downing Street. Both her and her boyfriend came back inspired by the experience and hungry for more.

On 10 November she told me she'd be going on the NUS demo. I expected a big turnout but not 50,000! She phoned me at work along the course of the demo, describing its size and saying how excited she was.

Later I received a phone call from a friend, saying that she had seen my daughter on TV singing and waving to the camera!

Police brutality

My daughter had not seen the police behaviour in the 1984-85 miners' strike or in the Wapping dispute. She never saw police brutality first hand - I had. The friend who phoned me had sustained a head injury from a police truncheon in the 1990s whilst fighting the fascists.

My daughter, her boyfriend and my son were on Facebook, full of their own power and influence on the world.

I felt old telling them to be careful. They have listened to my politics almost since they were born and we've had many a family political squabble round a dinner table. So I was flabbergasted when my 13 year old son asked could he protest on 9 December after speaking to friends on Facebook!

9 December was, I think, the first time my daughter had felt scared. She queued for an hour to get out of Parliament Square only to be told she couldn't leave. She was then pushed onto Westminster Bridge and kettled for over five hours. She had to say she had an ulcer and start crying to a policemen to be let off the bridge!

Audacity

I became excited by the young people's audacity that night. My local council workplace faces 600 job losses and trade unionists need these young people's élan and raw revolutionary determination. The force they unleashed, linked to the trade union movement could, if not immediately stop, at least force a pause in the pace of job cuts.

The National Shop Stewards Network call to make 11 December a day of national demonstration would have perfectly complemented everything that has been happening. The TUC's failure to act is an absolute dereliction of duty considering the eruption of anger on Britain's streets and accelerating local government job losses.

There have to be link-ups and a generalisation of the ideas of fightback, of workers and students united.

I'm incredibly proud of my daughter and her friends. Even if at this stage they are perhaps a little naive, they have shown they are not 'the apathetic generation', they are not doormats passively letting their futures be stolen from them.

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